Reflecting on her Wildwood experience, Prue “learned to not consider the minutiae of things, but rather take each episode as...

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UNDER WILDWOOD

From the Wildwood Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Droll and ornate, elegiac and romantic—the sequel to Wildwood (2011) brings readers deeper into and under the pine-scented, magical world tantalizingly close to Portland, Ore.

Prue is drawn back to Wildwood by herons who rescue her from a trio of terrifying shape-shifters, and there she is reunited with Curtis, who stayed to enjoy the exhilarating life of a bandit-in-training. Attacked at their secret hideout, the bandits vanish. Adrift, Curtis and Septimus the rat join Prue on a quest that takes them under Wildwood, a setting straight out of M.C. Escher with a hint of Hieronymous Bosch. In the Industrial Wastes above, Curtis’ grieving parents search for him after parking his sisters at an orphanage. In this Dickensian institution, children labor to make machine parts, the owner dreams of extending his industrial nightmare into the Impassable Wilderness he sees but can’t reach, and his partner, Desdemona, former B-movie actress in Ukraine, dreams of Hollywood glory. Indulging a free-range imagination, Meloy mulches his verdant wilderness with wildly eclectic cultural references—real (Macbeth, Moby-Dick) and un- (Tax Bracket magazine, Lego replicas of Soviet-era statues). The incomparable Ellis more than rises to the challenge—her sly, wistful, abundant illustrations provide an emotional through line.

Reflecting on her Wildwood experience, Prue “learned to not consider the minutiae of things, but rather take each episode as it came.”  Take Prue’s advice and enjoy the ride. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-202471-8

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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